COVID19 Increase, Critical Symptom and Safety Practices

COVID-19 continues to spread aggressively in the United States, causing a major rise in infections. This situation is more noticeable amongst high-risk and those with weaker immune systems. What makes this situation special is that it’s rare for such dramatic spikes to happen during summer, but harsh heat waves have caused people to stay indoors more, leading to more contact between people.

Now, 39 states are facing or will likely face COVID19 surges, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing as per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to Dr. David A. Schwartz, a medical epidemiologist and board-certified pathologist, there are numerous reasons behind this surge like new FLiRT variants of the virus, lesser number of people getting vaccinated against it, people’s immunity weakening over time coupled with increase in travel activity and gatherings.

Summer Surge and FLiRT Variants

Epidemiologist at Houston Methodist Dr. Ashley L. Drews reveals that we have seen surges every summer since the beginning of pandemic however this year’s surged kicked off earlier than usual. The problem has been made worse by changing FLiRT variants which dodge immunity and the general immunity levels going down over time. To top it off takes very few individuals have received updated COVID19 vaccines as of Fall 2023.

Hospital admissions might still be far from their peak numbers from 2020 but they are going up compared to springs count levels. Infectious disease physician at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Dr. Shirin Mazumder reveals that emergency room visits due to COVID19 are up by 14% compared to last week’s figure while hospitalizations rose by a whopping 25%. Holidays and travel activities are expected to increase these numbers even further. Long COVID remains a critical problem, as shown by symptoms carrying on for months in some patients.

Major Symptoms in Current Surge

According to infectious disease experts, the most common symptom witnessed during this current surge of COVID19 has been a sore throat. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Andreas M. Kogelnik explains that a sore throat is the most common symptom that he’s come across recently, “It might or might not be accompanied by a mild fever,” says Dr. Kogelnik. “This can easily be mistaken as an allergy issue thereby causing difficulties in early diagnosis.”

Other frequently seen symptoms are,

  • Body pain
  • Feeling cold
  • Chest congestion
  • Coughing
  • Tiredness
  • Raised body temperature

The symptom of loss of smell and taste that was very common with previous variant strains is now seldom seen anymore. As per Dr Mazumder, there seems to be no rise in the intensity of symptoms over time with these current strains nor have there been much change in their nature.

Safety Practices

To safeguard oneself against new forms of COVID19 we should not forget that it still lurks amongst us all. According to Dr Kogelnik the virus continues to change its form which combined with fewer people practicing safety measures like hand hygiene amid growing fatigue surrounding such precautions has led many to disregard even basic things like hand washing.

To ensure you and others around you stay safe please remember these key practices,

  • Hand cleaning, regularly sanitize your hands since this is how you reduce spread of the virus.
  • Wearing mask, put on masks, particularly in indoor settings where crowds gather.
  • Isolate yourself, avoid going out when sick.
  • Get tested frequently, this can help find and isolate the virus early.

These practices can be of great help to you and others around you during this rise in infections.

Should You opt for COVID Booster?

The choice of getting a COVID booster hinges upon your last dose date and overall wellbeing. Dr Mazumder suggests that those who haven’t received any boosters in the past six months should mull over getting vaccinated. People with compromised immunity or aged over 65 are eligible for an additional booster even if they took one last fall. If their last vaccination dose was administered at least four months back, they can opt for a further dose.

Infectious disease physician Dr Robert Salata shares that if your last booster was received during the fall season, and you have no other underlying health conditions then perhaps it’s better to wait out till this year’s updated vaccine shows up since it is designed to deal with the current circulating strains and will likely roll out early into the season.

Increase in COVID19 Cases and Mask Use

The number of cases showcases an incline across almost 39 states, suggesting proof a major summer wave is ripping through the population. CDC indexes transmission levels based on emergency department visits which along with hospitalization figures and positivity rates have shown a growth curve. Dr Thomas Russo, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Buffalo University links this swell in cases with rising travel activities and indoor gatherings made worse by harsh summer heat waves. The addition of new genetic variants such as KP.2, KP.3, LB.1 which all evolved from JN.1 has added fuel to fire further increasing infections such variants accounting for nearly 63% of all current infections in US.

In spite of these problems COVID19 continues to show the same symptoms but common signs to watch out for include,

  • Elevated body temperature
  • Persistent cough
  • Loss or diminished sensation of taste or smell
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Body pain
  • Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny nose Loss of appetite  Diarrhea  Nausea or vomiting

Closing Note.

COVID19 poses a pressing health challenge especially with the ongoing summer spike. While hospitalizations and visits to emergency have grown, thankfully the severity of cases hasn’t risen above peak pandemic levels. It is important to remain alert, follow good hygiene practices and opt for vaccination as protection against viral infection. The upcoming fall vaccine is expected provide strong protection against ongoing strains making it a must have safety measure in fight against current pandemic.

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